We Competed. We Won. We're Home: How to Create a Post-Olympic Games PR Strategy

By James Stibbs

Winner, winner, chicken dinner.*


Your athletes have gone to Rio and performed on the biggest stage of all (unless they were playing golf or soccer — moot point).

They return victorious — and in Business Class, the lucky so-and-so's.

But what next? How do you make the most out of this brief spotlight before Monday Night Football returns? 

1. Plan

It's not too late for this. It rarely is.

The window of opportunity is undoubtedly brief, but it hasn't yet shut. If you want to make the most of it, take some time out with your team and think about what you can do. 

If you didn't do this before the games, make a note to do so at key points in the next cycle — world championships, nationals, games, etc. 

Make it a regular part of the preparation process, even if you are not expecting a result.

Just like you should plan for a crisis, you should also plan for success. 

2. Prioritize

Unless you have to, don't carpet bomb with your efforts.

Your organization has a strategy, so whatever you do to make the most of your medalists - focus your efforts in areas that serve your pre-defined corporate objectives. 

Think about whether you need to focus on participation, partnerships, commercial growth or elsewhere. Make your efforts impact those outcomes. 

3. Be realistic about media opportunities

In 2016, Team USA won 121 medals across 25 disciplines. And while there is a lot of appetite for Olympic riches, the stories move on quickly from one day to the next.

That's a lot of metal to mine for journalists. Elaborating stories about being held up at gun point is inadvisable, so think about how you move from phase to phase with your athletes to keep the momentum going. 

4. Scratch the surface

If you haven't already in your pre-games planning phase, find out a bit more about your athletes.

Apart from being good at their sport, is there anything else that lifts them from the pack? An X-Factor-style family story, a significant barrier overcome, an obsession with cars, watches, or shoes?

If you can move your athlete from the sports pages, to lifestyle, health or feature channels with your insights, you've captured an opportunity.

Roll on, Sports Personality of the Year...

5. Think broadly about your stakeholders

The cache of an Olympian immediately after the games is high. Think and talk to them about making the most of that time with stakeholders. 

Would your funders, sponsors or partners welcome a photo opportunity for their owned channels to recognize their contribution? Would they value a meet-and-greet as an exclusive staff incentive?

How can you use an athlete to market an upcoming event or conference? Is there a campaign where their addition would add clout? How can the athlete's image be used in your owned channels to serve your strategic outcomes (remember Point 2: no carpet bombing!).

6. Plan again

Following any campaign or program, you should get into the habit of the debrief. What did you learn? What mistakes did you make? How can you improve next time? What knowledge does the organization need to have on record to make it work next time around, should you fall under the proverbial bus?

* Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Perhaps apocryphally, it refers to the cry of the Vegas croupier when a hand was won. The minimum return on a blackjack bet was enough to buy a decent chicken dinner at the casino. No medals for knowing that though.  


James Stibbs is a London-based sports communications consultant. With a long career working in-house and agency-side for some of the biggest names in sport and health, he was closely involved in London's 2012 Olympics, helping to ensure that the legacy of the Games remained a focus for organisers. He is chair of the Public Relations and Communication Association's Sports Group. Tweet him @DukeJim.